Laura Hodges has pretty much done it all in Women’s basketball, through unheralded returns from injury to World Championships. So it seems an appropriate career challenge for her to consider returning to play less than a year after giving birth for the first time!
I could rattle on about Laura’s four (yes four) Olympic Games as an Opal; her national representation at three FIBA World Championships; her feats as a youngster in the WNBL; her pioneering pathway into the WNBA; her superstar status across European Leagues and so on…
As a more average but still hard-working member of society however I have drawn as much inspiration, and perhaps more transferable relevance, through observing her return to professional basketball this time around. Also a returning iNform client, Laura was initially challenged through the retrieval of her historical data.
This time, the challenge was far less about comparison of physical metrics, and more around the psychological parameters of reframing mindset, perspective, expectation and prioritisation.
Far be it for me to give any real insight on the trauma of childbirth, but I feel safe in saying this amazing human feat tends to change a few things for a while! For an athlete of Laura’s calibre, or indeed for the more corporate type ‘athlete’, it creates a dynamic equilibrium between survival, heightened personal demands, and maintaining high performance, requiring a deal of mental toughness quite unlike most other workplace challenges. Here’s a snippet of some of the lessons this recent experience has brought to me:
Set and commit to refined expectations
It’s so easy to look back and compare yourself to what you used to do. The problem is this doesn’t help when the state of play has changed with evolved pressures, different responsibilities, and perhaps even those outside your immediate circumstances heaping past expectations back onto you.
This has been an opportunity to identify a realistic, achievable and appropriate set of performance goals balanced between circumstance and professional ambition. With a commitment to these, the pressure from peripheral expectation is effectively managed.
Create a hierarchy of priorities and get the big rocks right
I was always drawn to the big rock/little rock analogy that speaks of prioritising the stuff that really matters. There are many ‘little rocks’ in high performance and leadership that may be perceived as useful, but ultimately not vital in driving achievement.
New stages in life will benefit from evaluative, and perhaps collaborative choices, to consistently put your valuable time and effort into the things that truly matter; and it’s ok for these things to look a little different from week to week and month to month!
Take some perspective on your perspective
Competing demands can distort one’s view of their effectiveness and achievements. It can be useful to regularly reflect on what you are comparing yourself to and why; what metric you are using; and whether this is the best standpoint for you at the time. Engaging this process lets you refresh and remember your values to keep you ‘in check’ throughout changing circumstances.
Laura is under no illusions. While winning another WNBL contract is a great achievement in itself, this one comes with a changing of the guard for her. She has recognised the opportunity to forge a new role, and will apply her world class standards to play this out in a team for benefits that exceed her own individual performance this season.
If you are looking to recover some of your own balance in life, iNform’s professional exercise approach will support you in establishing an effective way forward.